Making a list? Checking it twice? Here are some guidelines to keep befuddled spouses, parents of teenagers and others on the right track.

*** 1/2 JOHN PARISH & POLLY JEAN HARVEY, "Dance Hall at Louse Point," Island. In this side project with her bandmate, Harvey takes her familiar themes--obsession, deception, dread and emotional extremes--even closer to the edge than she has under her own name.


Albums and other items in the Gift Guide are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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